I just finished a book a called Brain on Fire, by Susannah Cahalan, a fascinating story about how the author, a young woman in her mid-twenties, went through a year long battle with a rare auto-immune disorder that affected her brain functioning and mimicked the signs of schizophrenia. She eventually recovered fully. As Cahalan chronicled her amazing, long and arduous recovery, which included massive amounts of steroid treatment, among other things, I was really struck by something I noticed in her narrative. Cahalan repeatedly described how ashamed she was of her weight gain and round, moon-like face – both typical side-effects of steroid treatment. She used words like, “apalled,” “embarrassed,” “roasted pig,” “disgusting” in recalling how she looked during recovery.
To be perfectly honest, this made me extraordinarily sad, not just for this author, but for people in general. Think about this: if your sister, friend or co-worker were going through a treatment that had adverse physical side-effects, or even permanent symptoms, how would you think about that person? Would you be critical, sardonic and negative about them – or would you have thoughts like, “They are going through such a tough time,” and “Wow, so-and-so is so strong! Look at all she’s handling and she still keeps going!” My guess is, like me, you would feel compassion and admiration for anyone else. So then, why are we so MEAN to ourselves?
Why is our self-talk so often negative, derisive, judgmental and unforgiving? I would venture to say all of us say things to ourselves (or at least think things) that we would never say to someone else!
I kept thinking, as I read Cahalan’s self-criticism, about how much she deserved to be thinking things like, “I am AMAZING! I am making such great progress! I am so grateful to be alive! I’ve been through so much, I need to give myself grace.” Really, that’s something we all need to take to heart. You and I are our own worst enemies. We experience something awful, hard, excruciating, and then we heap a bunch of nasty self-talk on top of it all. Well, I say “ENOUGH!” Every life comes with it’s share of garbage – the last thing we need to be doing is compounding it with our own thoughts and words. So, STOP IT! Yes, I’m talking to you. STOP being unkind, mean, rude, and hurtful to yourself. Ultimately, you are all you’ve got baby, and you’d better be your own best champion.
So, next time you’re struggling with something, whether it be learning something new, an illness, or a set back of any kind, I want you to think of yourself just as you would a dear friend. Be encouraging. Be kind. Be hopeful and uplifting. Give yourself lots of credit and lots of grace. Nap when you need to. Eat good food. Say no to everything non-essential (and that’s nearly everything we pack our lives with really.) Cheer yourself on as you make progress, no matter how slow, and show yourself LOVE – just as you would to anyone else you care about. Because in the end, you taking care of you will make your road to healing that much more achievable. And guess what? It will make you a better person to those you love too.
How is fall going for you? While you have a moment, take a deep breath and check in with yourself. Are you carving out time to nurture your mind, spirit and body? Scheduling a wellness session is a great start.
Before the holiday season hits, prioritize your emotional and physical well-being. Sound Counsel would like to help by offering you a chance to win a free FALL WELLNESS PACKAGE. We have partnered with Dr. Angela Potter and Dr. Lucia Vracin of Island Health and Chiropractic to offer the following package to one lucky winner:
Subscribe at the top right corner of this page and enter today to win. For mobile users: scroll to the bottom for the subscription form. The winner will be notified on October 18, 2016.
If you google ‘transition from summer to fall,’ you’ll find a host of fashionable ideas on how to blend your summer and fall wardrobes. You’ll find very little, however, on how to blend the conflicting emotions a change of season can elicit.
The autumnal equinox is on September 22, 2016 and it’s important to nourish your mind, spirit, and body as the season shifts. Shorter days and colder nights have a profound impact on our bodies and minds. We can grow melancholy as the golden hue of the low set sun illuminates the changing landscape. While some find fall invigorating; others find it bittersweet. Feelings of grief and sadness grow more prevalent this time of year.
The following articles offer tips on how to navigate the transition:
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center:
“September especially is associated with a time of change for just about all of us, and that can really affect a person’s mood,” says Stephen O’Neill, LICSW, BCD, JD, Social Work Manager for Psychiatry and Primary Care at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “Some people are ready for cooler weather and school to begin, but others aren’t quite as resilient to change.”
“To help you transition more smoothly from the summer season, here are nine ways you can get into the fall groove, including a few activities to help give summer a proper send-off.“
“The pressure of succeeding and meeting expectations that come with a new year can consume our energy. We use worry like a form of long-distance control when we feel like our goals are merely another opportunity to fail.”
If you or someone you know are struggling through a transition, solution-focused therapy can help. Just like your physical health, staying healthy emotionally will reap benefits over your lifespan and add richness to daily living.
Contact me today to schedule your free thirty minute consultation. I can partner with you to find the best approach for your situation.To learn more about my counseling practice, my background, and the psychotherapy modalities I use, visit my about page.
Before you go looking for yourself, consider the possibilty that creating yourself will yield greater fulfillment and deliver more positive results. It will also steer you away from the pitfall of not finding what you’re seeking.
“There is something intrinsic in our drive to explain, order, and extract meaning from the chaos of our lives. Storytelling is, after all, an adaptive behavior dating back as far as 40,000 years. The stories we tell ourselves don’t get fact-checked, but they do have to feel authentic to our personal experience. Our ability to make sense of, and create meaning from, memories defines how we feel about ourselves and shapes the identity we create throughout our lives.”
Developing a stronger sense of self is one way to accomplish this. One of the modalities I use to achieve this process is Internal Family Systems. To learn more about IFS or for direction on how to navigate this journey, contact me to schedule a session.